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By Meg McHugh on

On This Day: Edward Taylor Bellhouse’s 200th birthday

Today is the 200th birthday of Edward Taylor Bellhouse—if that name doesn’t mean very much to you, then you need to take a closer look at our Air and Space Hall.

The name is cast prominently into many of the iron columns that form the magnificent framework of the former Lower Campfield Market Hall.

10 October 1816

Picture of Bellhouse's name cast into an iron girder
Science Museum Group © The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum


Edward Taylor Bellhouse was part of a dynasty of Manchester builders and engineers. His father, David Bellhouse Junior, was the contractor responsible for constructing our 1830 Warehouse, a remarkable feat that his team managed to accomplish in less than five months.


Picture of the 1830 Warehouse at the Museum of Science and Industry
Science Museum Group © The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum


In 1842, father and son established their company ET Bellhouse & Co. at the Eagle Foundry on Whitworth Street, Manchester. Business was brisk and ET Bellhouse soon made a name for himself. In 1847, he was responsible for supplying nine cast iron bridges to the Manchester South Junction & Altrincham Railway.

The company grew into an international business, becoming recognised as the world’s foremost supplier of prefabricated iron buildings. These were much needed in America, where the Californian gold rush led to a huge demand for temporary accommodation and warehouses. The company also had contracts in South America and Australia, making it a global success story.

Bellhouse was also kept busy closer to home. In 1857, Manchester held the magnificent Art Treasures exhibition. Amongst the many attractions was a huge cast iron building that Bellhouse constructed for one of the exhibitors in just 13 days.

Despite his prolific output, only two of Bellhouse’s iron buildings survive. These are the Upper and Lower Campfield Market Halls, right here in Castlefield, Manchester, built between 1877 and 1882. So, next time you’re taking a stroll down Liverpool Road, look out for these two landmark listed buildings and don’t forget to find the Bellhouse name that is written all over them.


Science Museum Group © The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum


5 comments on “On This Day: Edward Taylor Bellhouse’s 200th birthday

  1. I am currently a student at York University, studying for an MSc in Building Conservation. I am embarking on my dissertation entitled historic wooden setts in public places. I found out about the Bellhouse name from testimony given by Mr David Bellhouse on the subject of Mr David Stead’s patent for wood paving, dated 1st September 1843.
    Please could you let me know if the Bellhouse firm had any involvement in the manufacture of wooden paving around the 1840’s.


    David Clark

    1. Trafford Rd fronting Salford Docks(Manchester Docks, Salford Quays now) was said to have been paved with wooden setts to keep the noise of the heavy early morning and late night travel down.

  2. Hello,
    Whilst not seeking to diminish Bellhouse’ deserved fame for his cast iron structures he also deserves a mention for the oldest surviving corrugated iron building in Britain: the Ballroom at Balmoral Castle. This was bought directly from the Great Exhibition by Prince Albert himself.
    Bruce Induni

  3. I have just noticed large ‘E T Bellhouse’ maker’s stamps on iron plates of the bridge carrying Brooks’s Drive over the Cheshire Lines Committee’s section of the mid-Cheshire railway line, Timperley…not far from the site of Baguley station, closed in 1964….can supply photos if of any use….

  4. An E T Bellhouse footbridge over the River Mersey is still in use. It links Hardy Lane, Chorlton to Rifle Road, Sale.
    Know locally as Jackson’s Boat bridge.

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